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Monday, April 29, 2013

Bubbles are to Boy what God is to Man

It's only a hunch, but I have a feeling that this child's reaction to bubbles might be akin to something of the joy we may someday experience in the Beatific Vision, no?

Daily theology box, checked.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Sorry. I don’t normally enhance my blog with profanity, but this little funny reduced me to tears. Allow me to explain.

“Come with me to free yoga this Sunday”, says Carla.  “Fine” says Karen.
I’ve never done yoga before. I’ve thought about it and dismissed every time as a momentary lapse of sanity.  tantric pigeon poses; strange incantations conjuring pagan gods, new-agey theologically questionable at-one-ment; not for this Spartan princess.  Besides, I don’t understand the language...  I struggle hard enough inventing my own Latin and Spanish words. This just sounds like gargling with vowels. Hasayamapataranamathan.  You understand.

So what made this Sunday at 10:30 plausible enough for my intro to Yoga 101 experience? I dunno. A suspected hunch is a faint recollection of a recent phone conversation where someone suggested that I investigate “Catholic Yoga”. Seed planted. I think I have subconsciously willed it into being.

Ok. So I find my best stretchable clothing; something that won’t tear out too easily in the behind and is fashionable enough to parade around in one of the wealthiest shopping establishments in Arizona. I immediately feel ridiculous that I am thinking about this. I don my most yoga-esque shade of pink lipstick and drive my comfortable self to the Biltmore.

Arriving at the parking garage, I follow the slow parade of people toting yoga mats since I do not exactly know where I am going. I am good at pretending to know what I am doing when in fact, I do not know what I am doing.  God plays along with this plan since these people lead me right to the center pavilion where I encounter half of the population of Paradise Valley.

Thought bubble #1: Do you ever wonder why the churches are empty? Well wonder no more.  I found all of the recovering Catholics and lapsed church-goers right here at the Biltmore!  [Pastors…take note.] 

I greet Carla, exchange a few laughs, roll out the mat and prepare myself for the hour ahead.  The yoga instructor is a lovely young gal definitely wearing the right spandex ensemble.

Thought bubble #2: I think to myself how every athletic activity has it’s own “look” yoga folk tend to resemble pilate folk. But they definitely look different than hockey folk…but I digress. 

Our yoga priestess has us greeting the sunshine and paying homage to our breath. I think I mutter a “Hail Mary”, which actually settles me…. Whenever I’m lost, I look over to Carla who is managing quite well with her big toe wedged almost inside of her ear. After getting past the cognitive dissonance of shopping the stores with my eyes while trying to concentrate on the goodness of my spirit, I realize this is not unlike the drifty-ness I experience when my mind wanders in prayer. Hmmmm, “White House/Black Market excellent sundress” competing with “I want to sing the sweetest song to Jesus in this time and place”.   Eventually I do figure out a rhythm in the pigeon pose circuit. And that brings some relief  because I need order.

But then, there is the woman next to me. Clearly, she is frustrated. She is inconveniently sandwiched between the pavement sidewalk, next to White House Black Market and me. I immediately feel sorry for her. a bit of a negative vibe of energy has her in a tantric mental wedgy which has been caused simultaneously by a bad audio system and a child being strolled around who is screaming at the top of his lungs.  (And me, and WH-BM). Then she says the words that completely untangle me:

“I have lost all serenity. Now I’m just “expletive-ed”. I need a beer. 

I need a beer?  I giggle. I laugh out loud. She laughs out loud. I determine this to be the high point of my yoga experience and I have made a mental friend. She introduces me to where I am comfortable: Rule 62… never take yourself too (expletive) serious. To this thought I add my own quotable: humor is the fertilizer of a happy soul. I begin to feel a particular lift (with my toe in my ear), as I thank God for a beautiful day in His sunshine.

Thought Bubble #3: My mind wanders to the next meditative thought: the yoga class invading the corner bar; mats, spandex and all. 

Maybe I’ll come back again next week.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

My deep peace I give to you

In today's Gospel Christ appears to the frightened apostles.  He crosses over their makeshift boundary of locked doors and reaches them exactly where they need to be reached: in their fear. Surprisingly, the Christ does not say things like "fear not" or "calm down" or "get a grip" or "what part of rebuilding the temple in three days did you not understand?" No. He utters a word. He is the Word made flesh. And now a Word called PEACE. He is our peace. And then he does something majestically creationistic: He breathes on them. He gives them His very breath. This should sound alarm bells for anyone paying attention to Old Testament exegesis. In that beautiful passage of Genesis, we see God in Chapter 2 doing the same thing to Adam right after He created him:
...the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.  Genesis 2: 6-7 (emphasis mine)
Notice that man became a living being only after the God-breath entered him. We can unmistakably see this connection in the upper room, now penetrated by the Living God as he breathes onto the 12 a new breath of life; one that would cast away fear. One that would make the shadow of Peter a source of healing and grace. One that would send that tiny group of Palestinian nobodys out into the world to baptize all nations in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The old has passed away...the new has come. Behold, I come to give life and give it to the full!

A small group of friends and I attended the Chrism Mass on Monday during Holy Week, where I had the pleasure of seeing this ritual action right there in the liturgy. Bishop breathed on the sacred oils that would be distributed to all the parishes for our annual sacramental needs. The sacred oils are used to "seal the deal" so to speak in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Anointing of the Sick. Never was the point driven home so beautifully after having heard the gospel for this Mercy Sunday. I'm glad God associated PEACE with driving out fear. It is a blessing of mercy, courage and it is the gift of God's very life breath in us. It is our divine consolation and a foretaste of heaven in which we place all our hope.

If you are meeting fear or struggles today, may you take a deep breath and find his Peace.